Have you found out that there are tree roots clogging your plumbing? They can be a pain to get rid of. But what’s the harm? Do they have to be removed?

Take it from us: you should deal with the problem as soon as possible. It takes more than regular maintenance to get rid of them, too. Read on to find out more.

tree roots in plumbing

Image courtesy of Storyblocks.

Tree roots in plumbing are a sign that there is a pre-existing fault

The first problem with having tree roots in plumbing isn’t actually caused by the roots themselves. Rather, the problem is that the roots are a sign of a problem that already exists. There are a number of faults that can lead to tree roots in plumbing, such as:

  • Leaking pipes: the tree roots are attracted to the leaking water, and colonise the pipe through the gap
  • Blocked pipes: again, blocked pipes provide a ready source of standing water for tree roots to enjoy. Ideally, the water should flow freely, so that the tree roots are discouraged from setting up shop.
  • Deteriorated seals and failed joints: these factors again can attract tree roots with the promise of water. In a closed system, the tree roots would never ‘know’ that there’s water close by. But where the roots are allowed in, or where water is allowed out, tree roots (and plants generally) will thrive.

As you can see, tree roots in plumbing are caused by existing damage to your pipes. It’s actually very rare that tree roots or other plants can break their way in to your plumbing system.

What are the warning signs?

There are a number of signs that your plumbing may have been taken over by tree roots. Unfortunately, you can’t always easily see that roots have taken hold in your plumbing, unless you actually break open the pipe and look for yourself. That’s why the problem can go unchecked for a long time before you realise there’s anything wrong. That being said, there are a few warning signs that you’ll have to look out for. In no particular order:

  • Slow flowing drains indicate that the water is being held up by something. Often, that could be limescale caused by hard water. But in this case, there are tree roots in the way!
  • Strange gurgling noises in your pipes can be a sign of many things, tree roots among them. This is because the water is draining erratically- moving through and around the roots in your pipes.
  • Recurring problems with your toilet or other drains clogging is an obvious sign. This is because the water, debris and waste being flushed away can easily get caught among the roots.

Tree roots in plumbing can therefore cause problems in your home. But what exactly do they do to your plumbing system, and why are they a problem?

What’s the harm of tree roots in plumbing?

Letting tree roots colonise your pipes is a problem that only gets worse over time. If you let it keep getting worse, your pipes will suffer extensive damage because of the force of the roots expanding.

If you’ve ever walked down the sidewalk, and there were trees planted on one side, you might have noticed the concrete looking buckled and broken. Why? That’s the force of the tree roots! They can’t move quickly, of course, but over time they can push their way through almost anything. Your pipes included.

Because of the force of their growth, tree roots in plumbing can cause cracks and fractures in your pipes in extreme cases. In turn, that causes leaks and low pressure. But hold on, because it gets worse! The leak from that crack or fracture actually attracts more tree roots and plants to your pipes!

But if you have strong pipes, particularly if they were only recently installed, they’re probably strong enough to withstand tree roots. In that case, the worst problem you’ll encounter will most likely be reduced water flow and increased blockage frequency, especially if you use a garbage disposal.

So what can I do to fix tree roots in plumbing?

To unblock your drain, you’ll need the help of a professional drain clearing company like ours. We use our skill and experience dealing with problems like these every day, and we can use the top quality equipment at our disposal to clear your drain in no time.

The best way of clearing your drains is by using a method called drain jetting, which is exactly what it sounds like. Basically, a high pressure jet of water is shot straight down the drain. Hopefully, this blast of water will be enough to completely clear your drain, roots and all. This is something that you quite simply can’t do at home, because the water pressure required is extraordinary.

If the tree roots can’t be cleared by drain jetting, or even by physically trying to remove them from the pipe, a full refit may be necessary. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. It also might be preferable, because the damage that actually allowed the roots to take hold might be extensive. In that case, you should have your pipes refitted anyway.

After the work is done, you should schedule regular maintenance, and keep an eye on the trees in your backyard and your neighborhood. They’re always on the lookout for more pipes to colonise!

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